Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Christopher P. Magra

Committee Members

Charles Sanft, Denise Phillips, Barbara J. Heath


My dissertation argues that there were close cultural ties between late imperial China and British North America. Ideas associated with tea’s medicinal efficacy transferred from China to America in the eighteenth century. China was the most prolific producer of tea in the world until the nineteenth century. Late Ming and Qing (1580-1780) medical practitioners and connoisseurs reinvented the idea that drinking tea could cure a wide array of physical ailments. A combination of Chinese and European commercial and intellectual networks then transferred this knowledge to the Atlantic World from roughly 1600 to 1750. Eighteenth-century Americans consumed large amounts of tea primarily for the health benefits that they learned directly from Chinese sources and indirectly from European intermediaries.

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